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Dead fish causing foul smell near Safety Harbor, Clearwater

Pinellas County

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The smell of dead fish is so bad, it makes you gag. Thousands of dead fish are washing up along the shores of Tampa Bay. 

Exactly what’s causing this large-scale fish kill is an algae bloom that typically happens in the summer months.

They are rotting in the hot sun, making it difficult to be outside.

“To say there’s thousands, I don’t know that that’s impossible,” said Mark Prince, as he pointed out dead fish in the mangroves behind his house.

“Here’s another big, red fish back in here. I guess that’s a red fish,” he said.

Dead fish are decaying in the mangroves, red fish, drum fish and mullet. Some are giants.

It’s all happening in the waters of Old Tampa Bay, on the Pinellas side.

The smell can knock you out.

“It’s pretty gamey. I’m afraid it’s gonna get a lot worse,” said Prince.

Buzzards are enjoying a fish feast, but Prince’s daughter doesn’t like the stench wafting through the air.

“I’ve lived here for 24 years and haven’t seen anything like this. Who knows? But I hope somebody gets to the bottom of it,” said Prince.

Florida Fish and Wildlife have reports of dead fish in Phillippe Park, Allen’s Creek and at the Bayside and 580 bridges.

Pinellas County Environmental Management blames low dissolved oxygen in the water, caused by the algae called Pyrodinium bahamense.

On the north side of the Bayside bridge, dead fish are floating in the water, including a number of stingrays.

At the nearby Grand Bellagio condos, Evey Hammond suspects runoff from a construction project is to blame. She described the smell.

“It’s bad. Yeah, you can’t even breathe out here,” she said.

The dead fish are a smorgasbord for nature’s scavengers and a serious concern for people worried about the environment.

“The water is important and we want to protect our waterways and we want to keep it clean. The water should be clean for everybody to enjoy,” said Hammond.

It’s not red tide, but can be confused with it, because of the algae’s reddish-brown color. It is fed by nutrients, including those in fertilizers, sediment, yard waste and animal waste.

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